19 July 2017

Filipino Culture collides with Global Streetwear in Chad Manzo's "SALTY" Series


Take a page out of Cebu-based art director and graphic designer Chad Manzo about tasteful reinterpretation. His latest series entitled "SALTY" features Filipino icons and incorporates them on a variety of street culture heavy brands.

Words by Raniel Moraleta

There's a very fine line that divides blatant ripoffs and absolutely brilliant reinvention. Chad Manzo's integration of the Filipino image on relevant brands is thought-provoking and urges one to reflect on the influence of street culture locally. His work is something to aspire for, for local artists. Especially those involved in the local streetwear scene. The art of design will slowly disintegrate into uninspired work that mean nothing if tasteless ripoffs continue. Chad's smart, and admittedly humorous series is the type of catalyst that the local scene needs – to remind local brand owners about becoming more mindful in designing. We are losing our ability to be unique, forgetting that we can represent a rich culture on our own without having to look to what's trending globally. "We should be able to push for a movement so far into the global race to the point that we can be proud to have our own 'Supreme', 'Palace', or 'Gosha'." Chad shares a vision where we are able to compete with these global brands we idolize.

SALTY is exactly why you think it was named as such. It's the knee-jerk reaction of people when they feel that something violates their fandom. Chad shares that the title is a sort of anticipation of the probable reactions people would have for the series. It would be the obvious reaction after seeing your beloved streetwear culture names associated with local icons, I believe, but Chad's series digs deeper. While an initial interaction with the art would make one laugh, it becomes increasingly clear that there are underlying themes to each piece. Further scrutiny reveals relationships that the amalgamated icons have with each other. Chad cited the consumption of the streetwear community of Supreme's products, that it is akin to the consumption of Lucky Me! Supreme cup noodles when one is on a tight budget. A somewhat ironic parallel that reveals a darker side to streetwear. "The clues are all in the titles", he says. Chad's personal views of the streetwear culture raises important awareness on the atmosphere we are creating locally. I hope this is a wake-up call for people involved in the scene. While most people might be more interested in looking cool than upholding the culture, there are still those like Chad who are hopeful for a progressive community. May this visual commentary be a foundation for the future.

You can check out Chad Manzo's series on his Instagram account @chadmanzo and his website www.chadmanzo.com











SALTY too sweet? Five pieces from the series is hitting merchandise soon, under the namesake brand. Let us know which graphic you'd like to see first by upvoting below.

Which five of the "Salty" designs are you interested to be printed on t-shirts?

The Seven Hundred Club
Annedefeated
Batibot
Kylie x Andrew E
Off White
One More Chance the Rapper
Pepe Smith
Supreme Bulalo
Migos
Bembol Rocowear
Jestoni des Alarcon
Paking Awesome
Palibhasa Lalake
Vice
Home Vlone Da Riles
Do Quizzes



18 July 2017

Mentorship: TUSK Social's Kyle Francia learns from OTO's David Ong


When starting out in an industry, there will always be the inevitable pitfalls.  This, however, prolongs the process when finding one's place in the field. It is a paradox budding creatives know too well: wanting to shorten the process while understanding that true excellence takes time.

But what if you can fulfill one side of the equation without compromising the other? This conversation aims to answer just that.

Unlike the usual Q&A format, we brought together two professionals from the same field to exchange ideas on the topic matter. This time around, we have Kyle Francia of TUSK Social and David Ong of The CuratorEDSA Beverage Design Studio and OTO. Francia is a 25-year old who started in the food and beverage industry through working at 12/10 — an izakaya restaurant and bar in Makati. While Ong is a renowned coffee and cocktail connoisseur, who is one of the pioneers of the modern renaissance that the industry is experiencing as of the moment.

With varying degrees of experience in the beverage industry — Francia is relatively new to the scene, while Ong is more established — it's interesting to note how both perspectives line up every now and then, particularly when it comes to working the craft. From waiting for the right moment to understanding the customer, in the end, the two talk about this and more in the excerpt below.

Words by Pam Musni & Photos by Zaldine Alvaro

David Ong and Kyle Francia

Waiting for the right moment

KYLE FRANCIA: Correct me if I'm wrong, but as a part-owner and manager of The Curator Coffee & Cocktails, EDSA Beverage Design Group, and OTO, how was the industry before you came in? This is for both coffee and cocktails.

DAVID ONG:  Before I got back to Manila in December 2011, I made myself a five-year goal that consisted of The Curator Coffee & Cocktails and EDSA Beverage Design Group, but didn't act on it immediately. When I returned, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were quality coffee and cocktails in the form of Kuppa and Blind Pig. Apart from these two, there weren't any other players.

KYLE: Was it you personally who didn't act, or the market that did not act?


DAVID: Me personally! I felt like I had to be observant of the market for a good amount of time before jumping into it. I knew what I wanted to do — that is to have a place that served both third wave AND specialty coffee (there's a difference) as well as craft cocktails. On top of this, I was nobody... And I needed a solid team. This was when I met my partners for The Curator and EDSA BDG: Jericson Co, Bernice Tiu and Kerwin Lo (who also owns Kuppa).


KYLE: And this was around what year?

DAVID: This was in 2013. CRAFT Coffee Workshop had just opened then... I ws sitting down the bar sipping my coffee when I heard a random guy talking about things that I was interested in with his friend — and it turned out to be Jericson and Bernice!

KYLE: This is the one in QC, right?

DAVID:  Yes! After a few chats back and forth that lasted months, we decided that it was time to do something together.

My mom's brother, Jappy Gonzales owns a fashion company called H&F Retail Concepts, and one of the brands that he brought in is Fred Perry. He gave us our first gig on Father's Day Weekend last June 2013 as we served free coffee care of Fred Perry in four of their stores. We've been doing it every year since then!

The following week after, renowned food & beverage connector, JJ Yulo chanced upon us and invited us to the first ever Pinoy Eats World event at The Podium — Manly Eats. This was when we tested the full concept of coffee and cocktails together.

Come August 2013, we moved into the backroom of Cyrano Wine Shop & Deli who Jericson's brother, Jonathan was a partner of. Those were the days... The "Meth Lab" days when we would make do of the space and whatever personal equipment we owned. A few weeks later, we moved into another one of Tito Jappy's shops called Archives d'Homme et Femme for a coffee pop-up that alsted three months... Which ended when we formally opened The Curator on December 5, 2013 — Repeal Day, of all days!

KYLE: Which closed recently.

DAVID: Yes. We were very fortunate and grateful that they left the space with us. We renovated it last year and reopened it in December 2016 — now, we serve coffee there from 7AM to 10PM.


More than passion

KYLE: You've obviously had a great experience with the quality of coffee and cocktails you've had in the past. When you guys decided to bring it to the Philippines, as you said, not a lot of people were used to it.

There's always this narrative about bringing in new concepts. People always say it's like passion projects — we're not doing this for the money, we want to provide better flavors. But for me, it's a bit over-used at one point, because you stack everything to whether it's really the passion for the project, or finding a niche. For you, is it about something the market hasn't been provided with yet and wanting to be the one that provides the service?


DAVID: I would say it's a little bit of both. If you've been to The Curator, the way that it's laid out is that it's basically a place FOR US, an extension of our home, where we could entertain guests. Thus, the communal tables, the long couch, and the seats by the bar. We felt that this setup was conducive to organic engagement... A place where we could talk about what we love to do and exchange ideas.

Unfortunately, a product can't speak for itself especially if it's new and unfamiliar to the market. Because of this, education is equally important. However, I'm in the belief of not forcing down unwarranted information into people's throats — instead, we focus on two things: execution and service. We continue to do this today. Fortunately, our customers have been extremely receptive of our efforts.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to intention. Personally, I'd always prefer to revisit a coffee shop and/or cocktail bar with great service and pride for what they do.



KYLE: As compared to a place that's really nice?

DAVID: Yes, that's the sad reality... What's "Instagram-able" versus the actual product and soul.

To me, success is relative. On one side, there's the "recognition" wherein people know who you are and what you do. Moreover, respect what you're doing for the industry, the community and the country. On the flip side, "Return on Investment" is just as important.

The balance between the two is the goal for me when I think about venturing out. In a nutshell, The Curator logo.

KYLE: The Curator ampersand?

DAVID: Exactly. If you look closely, it's a coffee cup, a couple glass, AND an ampersand. Sure, it's coffee and cocktails, but what's more important is that we improve on knowledge and technique everyday... What's MOST important is that we add value to something, to someone. Thus, the ampersand in which we strive to build genuine relationships one coffee and cocktail at a time.

I don't think that it's just The Curator either. You've worked at 12/10 and The Girl + The Bull — when you reach out to consumers, was it always easy.

KYLE: No, it's not.


DAVID: When they come in, customers expect certain things... But at the end of the day, I feel like it's summarized to two things: 1) How was the drink/food? 2) How was I treated?

If the answers to these questions are "great" and "even better," then we'll have returning customers who'll eventually become regulars... Who'll eventually become friends. To me, this is what it's all about.



Understanding the customer

KYLE: The first time I really had a proper cocktail was with you, and you were the one who made it... pero grabe, you came into it with all the right questions: "What do you like to drink? What kind of flavors do you look for?"

DAVID: Really? Well, thank you! I feel that taste is very subjective. Everybody has different preferences, and that's okay. I guess that it's just a matter of figuring out what those are and how you're feeling palate-wise as well as emotionally.


KYLE: And it's weird — I came into it thinking that I knew these flavors, but it was on another level... like even if you customize it as much as possible towards what you think the guy will like, it's still up to the original customer to be, I guess, accepting of whatever experience comes.

DAVID: I think so! For sure, people will have some reservations on certain flavors. Again, we all have preferences that we adhere to, but I feel that Filipinos' palates are evolving and so is our curiosity. Despite this, we still want to tailor-fit the drink and the experience around the customer. In my opinion, the only way one can do that is through great hospitality.


On the same boat

KYLE: When you guys first started off, the market knew nothing about you. As you said, when we got into 12/10 — the whole izakaya thing — people were a bit hostile, a bit apprehensive, because they didn't know how the concept was. And it was a bit harder for you guys because you were providing premium cocktails, premium pressing... so how did you guys convince a new market to change the way they think about this product?

DAVID: It's true, you know. I would like to return the question to you, actually.

KYLE: Well, that's kind of why I'm asking you — I don't really know how to approach this.

DAVID: That's what I'm saying... We're in the same boat even if I've been in the industry for three years, and you just for a few months! Going back to what I said earlier, there is no definite recipe to success — I don't consider myself as successful. Not yet, at least.

No matter how idealistic or passionate you are about what you do, people will always question why you do things a certain wait. For me, I want them to ask more questions! That way, we're more engaged with our customers and the rest of the industry... AND WE ALL GROW. A rising tide lifts all boats.

But don't forget Economics 101, "No money, no honey." It IS a business after all.



16 July 2017

What happened in Pursuit Fair 2017 – Vol. 1


People flock to bazaars for good reason, and it’s to painstakingly meander through a vast array of stalls in hopes of scoring great buys. The experience has always been more or less the same for everyone: we visit a bazaar, spend enough time rummaging through the brands, then leave as soon as we finally purchase something we like. That’s basically it, really—we rarely find any motivation to stick around.


Photos by Zaldine Alvaro

PURVEYR’s second Pursuit Fair, which took place last July 1 at the Century City Mall Events Space where the striking Makati skyline comes into view, ultimately changed my perspective about bazaars. An offbeat lifestyle fair originally intended to serve as an intimate space for a flourishing community with a shared love for local culture, Pursuit Fair 2017 – Vol. 1 encapsulated everything PURVEYR stands for and more: “Thoughtful brands breed a thoughtful community.”


With around 20 participating local brands last year to a total of 41 brands this year, it’s difficult to miss the buzz that the Pursuit Fair is making. It was impossible to leave the venue empty-handed given the diverse range of locally crafted products that were available that Saturday. Among the many up-and-coming clothing brands that attended were Boy in Transit, REVERE, Tenement, Tomorrow, Buzzhype, Thy Origins and Elevate Apparel. Other fashion and lifestyle brands such as ika by Angelica Rodriguez, Basic Commodity, The Maverick Pomade, and Polly Patch also chimed in the fun. But of course, the event wouldn’t have been complete without the delectable, filling participation of Idiot Sandwich, Tetsuo, Ono Poké Shop and District B. With all these creative home-grown brands to look out for, it’s safe to say that that the local culture is indeed thriving now more than ever, and Pursuit Fair succeeds in becoming the platform for everyone to enjoyably collaborate with and celebrate one another.




The event was anything but grand, but only because it didn’t have to be. What sets the Pursuit Fair apart from any other run-of-the-mill bazaar was its unconventionality. There were all sorts of cool things happening at the venue, such as folks getting their hair groomed at the pop-up barbershop by Slick Barbers Co as beautiful live music filled the glass-enclosed room. It fostered a better sense of community and appreciation for local culture as there was plenty of room for exchanging conservations with strangers on local craft and talent, and this is exactly why I can say that more than mere shopping, the Pursuit Fair was an experience like no other.

For more photos from the event, visit our Facebook page.







12 July 2017

On the Fast Lane: Five Creatives at the Top of their Game


There's an age-old saying that goes like this: it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. To play the game, however – and to play the game well – requires knowing the game; understanding its internal machinations so you know which switches to flip.

In life, the game can be anything or any field. The game-changers, on the other hand, are the people who have excelled in their respective fields, be it through hard grit, creativity, or otherwise. These are the people who aren't afraid to take the heat or live in the fast lane – whose determination makes them legends in their own right.

Not everyone can be in the fast lane, however – and for the few who do, Nike's Fast Pack is fast and light enough for the long day ahead. Because for the game changers, hustling isn't on an occasional basis; it's a way of life.

Here, we look into five of the hustlers who've shaped and contributed to the growth of the Philippine creative culture.

Photography by Zaldine Alvaro

 


Having masa-friendly virality while appealing to niche audiences isn't an easy feat. Especially in the local music industry, where there exists a demarcation between the indie and mainstream.

Abra is one such individual. Having made his debut in the Fliptop Battle League, he has since become a fan-favorite and a household name; known for his sharp wit and clever verses. For a while, it seemed like most of this recognition would be relegated to Fliptop's audience, but upon the release of single Gayuma, he was launched into a larger consciousness. From the well-made visuals to the catchy beat, it was a thrilling taste of what was to come – and Abra's creative genius.

 

While talented, he doesn't solely rely on it to incur his current degree of success. He instituted Artifice Records, his own record label, to ensure full creative control for both him and those under the label. Having graduated in management accounting in the University of Asia and the Pacific, he still uses what he learned from his degree to help with his career. Moreover, he used timing to his advantage when it came to Gayuma – the single had been long finished before its release; it was only after he saw a rise in hip-hop in the Philippines that he released it.

But aside from his more business-minded persona, his creativity in crafting songs stemmed from a love for all things creative – from painting to books, to movies. None of them seemed like the right outlet, however, until he saw the movie 8 Mile (starring Eminem). This was where he was introduced to rap, and coupled with the inspiration from his creative writing classes, the rest was history.

Abra wearing the Nike Dualtone Racer

Abra, then, runs the line between work and play, between clear logic and swift creativity. But he's able to make it work by bouncing one side on the other, often enhancing it. Perhaps this is the secret to his success across all audiences. He knows what he's doing, and he's not afraid to show it. And with the Nike Fast Pack, he can do just that.



When it comes to art, there are certain pieces we could call sublime – those which take beauty from pain, as opposed to pleasure. It's the kind that leaves us breathless at pieces like the Spolarium, or even sad love songs. And it's something you could use to describe the works of Yeo Kaa.

While other budding artists dream of the day they find their signature style, Yeo Kaa has done just that – balancing out the cutesy pastels of her work with darker, sometimes graphic undertones. But it's this contrast that makes it all the more striking, all the more sublime – and coupled with titles that feel all-too-real, provides a vulnerability that audiences can tap into.

 

With a growing career and increasing exposure – last year, she tied up with Bigboy Cheng for a doll line – Yeo Kaa's future in the visual arts seems bright. But unlike the usual formulas to fame being spouted out – know your audience, your competition – Yeo Kaa's work is decidedly personal, be it her themes, or how she approaches it.

What makes her work sublime is that it comes from her own personal experiences. In fact, she doesn't paint with a certain audience in mind, but for herself. Her work is cathartic in nature because it is meant to be – having depression since high school, her art helps her express the things she keeps hidden, or what she could not on a regular basis. The girl that figures prevalently in her work is Yeo Kaa herself, and beneath the sparkly eyes and soft colors lies something more painful. It's appearing okay on the surface to not inconvenience others, but only after further inspection can one see the pain inside, much like the reality of many depressed people.

 
Yeo Kaa wearing the Nike Dualtone Racer

But even with the troubles that plague her, Yeo Kaa continues painting. With its speed and lightweight capacity, the Nike Fast Pack helps her soldier on despite everything. There are deadlines to be kept, after all. And she keeps a positive outlook on the current art scene today – that it's great how art has become more democratic, and that the people in the art scene should just help each other flourish. To weave something beautiful out of something painful – especially while still undergoing difficulties of one's own – is a hustle in itself. And it's one Yeo Kaa keeps doing despite the odds.



The fashion scene is notorious for its cutthroat nature. As trends come and go and are disposed of, it's a race to get first dibs on what's in, what's new, what's fresh. But while this premium on exclusivity won't be going anytime soon, there's been a notable move from high-fleeced concepts to something more relatable.

Chi Gibbs of Neon Island is part of this growing sentiment. With locally made pieces and approachable designs, the brand has amassed its own sizable following – proving that fashion doesn't need to be elusive to look good. And it's no surprise. With Neon Island, Chi does what she loves, creating the designs she and partner Aira Medina have wanted to make. And with the Nike Fast Pack, she keeps stylish while doing so.

 

This is the kind of passion customers can feel – be it through their unique, hand-drawn designs, or their own enthusiasm for the brand. Aside from making the designs themselves, they also ensure that it helps promote the local industries by collaborating with other local businesses. It may be hard to keep a hand on all of this, but Chi manages nonetheless – while looking ever-so-fashionable, of course.

Moreover, it's also about consistency and keeping the brand's authenticity. Since its conception in 2013, Neon Island has continued to keep with its tropical, quirky designs without growing stagnant. Perhaps in part due to the fact that they keep their audience in mind when creating the designs, allowing for a more dynamic slant to it over the years.

 
Chi Gibbs wearing the Nike Air Zoom Mariah

But despite the love she gives Neon Island, it never crosses territorial boundaries, especially with the influx of other brands. On the contrary, she finds the numerous up-and-coming brands a good thing, noting that it's a great time for the local fashion industry. It's more support for all things local, after all – and although convention would state it'd be best to one-up the competition to succeed, Chi chooses to do otherwise. It's only through unity that one can achieve great things, after all, despite what fashion tradition may dictate. And, in a twist of irony, it's what keeps Chi above the competition in the end.



Jome Silayan wears a lot of hats. Some may recognize him by his modeling ads, others by his acting gigs. There is one field, however, that stands out the most – health, and Jome is right on top of it.

As one of the partners of The Healthy House, Jome knows the hustle. Providing science-backed healthy meals, after all, takes a lot of work – moreover ensuring that clients are satisfied with what they get and are able to achieve their fitness goals. Fortunately, this is something Jome knows well, for he has lived it.

He got into martial arts back in high school. The road to eating clean came easily with the practice. But Jome notes this isn't the only reason for his wholesome approach to life. Diabetes and hypertension run in his family, so growing up, he became more conscious of what he was eating along with the medical expenses his family incurred. His grandparents also had heart conditions, so every family reunion they would always have something healthy on the table.

 

From there on, the healthy lifestyle stuck and has been going for him ever since. The Healthy House, for instance, was a way for him and the other founders (including Gerard Sison, Daniel Matsunaga, and Ally Borromeo) to eat healthy, quality food in spite of their hectic schedules. They tried other diet delivery services, but none seemed up to par, so they thought to hire someone to cook for them instead. It was an arrangement that worked quite well for them, and with other people inquiring about their training regimens and lifestyle, they thought it was high time to share it with other people.

But even with earnest intentions, starting The Healthy House wasn't all smooth sailing. In the beginning, it was Jome and Gerard who talked to the clients directly, even conducting the follow-ups to see how their clients were. Eventually, they were able to hire more people into the team to keep it going solid, but Jome still works at it from Mondays to Sundays, even in the midst of his other commitments. (He shares that in between sets and scenes for his other gigs, he is often found working on The Healthy House.) Nonetheless, he balances out the busy by keeping a tight grip on his schedules and making sure he still adheres to a healthy lifestyle. If he's not on the dot, he's close to that.

Jome Silayan wearing the Nike Air Zoom Mariah

For Jome, after all, the grind is well worth it. With the Fast Pack's light and comfortable properties, he's able to go through the routines with ease. And as long as he helps people – customers and employees alike – he continues to be driven. Their satisfaction is one of the highlights of the job. Moreover, it's the fact that The Healthy House is an extension of himself – his principles, his lifestyle, his interests, and talents.



Shaira Luna's reputation precedes her. To have a Shaira Luna photograph featured in one's publication, or to be photographed by Shaira herself, is a point of pride, an honor that is a testament to her prowess.  Lo-fi, dreamy, and reminiscent of a time gone by, her photos are at once touching and cinematic, whose organic feel is informed by an innate understanding of the subject.

Creating her iconic style takes a lot of determination, however. Before clamping onto portraiture and fashion, she delved into various types of photography, ranging from events to sports to food. This openness towards other shoots helped her pick up and learn many things along the way, things that would eventually inform her creative process. Works by other photographers are also seen as potential points for awareness.

 

But this openness is not limited to the kind of shoot. Before the advent of self-taught-by-video, Shaira learned mostly by just doing the work. This was way before Youtube reached its point of ubiquity, and at the time it did not occur to her to check for VCD tutorials. (Photography books intimidated her, she shared.) Instead, she did self-portraits when she did not have anyone to practice on and shot until the camera felt like an extension of her. Prior to the Instagram age, she'd keep photos she liked to keep as a reference. It's something she does daily, and one of the things that trained her artistic eye.

Shaira's current approach to work is then, in a sense, a synthesis of all she had learned. She separates her work into categories – creative and collaborative editorial shoots, commercial and advertising work, and personal work – noting that with the three, it is important to know how to shoot in different styles and to let a part of the control go to other people. It's also here that the distinction among the three makes sense, as they are all different. But even with their differences, they're all still very personal in nature – containing a piece of the photographer due to what she invests in it. And it's this passion and investment that adds value to her work, and perhaps the reason why she is sought out that much.

Shaira Luna wearing the Nike Duel Racer

Shaira Luna is a photographer who came before the social media boom, a position that's given her an advantage in some ways. More so with her Fast Pack, where she's able to go the distances she needs to go for what she loves. The relationships she built way back have assisted her in this day and age, for one. But moreover, it's helped uncover the grit within the woman, the kind that endears her more than ever. 


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